Ally Bank Borrows From AmEx’s Digital Playbook

Back-to-school effort includes Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Office Max

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American Express isn't the only financial player that's serious about deals. Ally Bank has worked with 170 merchants in the last year, offering account holders the chance to get cash back when they make purchases with the retail brands in campaigns lasting two to three weeks.

For back-to-school season, it has partnered with Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Great Clips and Office Max to reward $5 cash back when Ally customers use their debit cards at the stores through Aug. 20. All told, they could save up to $110 on school supplies, according to Ally.

It’s little wonder the Detroit-based bank sees value in its program, dubbed Ally Perks. Beth Coggins, a spokesperson for Ally, said around 70 percent of her brand’s debit card customers have taken advantage of the cash-back program in the last year. “In the last six months, Perks redeemed per day have doubled,” she said. “It’s definitely resonating with customers.”

Ally’s program is similar to AmEx’s “Link Like Love” initiative, which hooks consumers up with merchant deals via Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter. And it perhaps more closely mirrors AmEx’s relationship with LevelUp, while letting cardholders earn cash back and loyalty points with purchases.

To enable Perks, Ally partnered with digital commerce software firm Edo Interactive. “There’s no linking, syncing or work to be done by the consumer,” said Mark Marinacci, Edo’s chief revenue officer. “It’s the ability to erase friction in commerce.”

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.